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Barcelona says tourists are worse than poverty

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Barcelona says tourists are worse than poverty
Tourists pull their suitcases along in Barcelona. Photo: Quique Garcia / AFP.
16:20 CEST+02:00
Tourists are a bigger problem for the inhabitants of Barcelona than poverty, according to a new poll, reflecting growing tensions as officials crack down on the numerous and at times misbehaving tourists.

The poll by the Barcelona City Hall on Friday showed that tourism was the third biggest problem named by survey respondents.

To the question of what was Barcelona's most serious problem, 5.3 percent of respondents said tourism, on par with politics (5.5 percent) and above poverty (5.1 percent).

The biggest problem for Barcelonians was overwhelmingly unemployment and working conditions at 31.9 percent while traffic came in second at 5.5 percent of responses.

Barcelona saw record numbers of tourists last year and has struggled with tensions between vacationers and locals who say the city is losing its "essence" as tourist shops replace traditional stores.

This year the city banned large tourist groups from accessing the iconic La Boqueria market to address complaints of overcrowding and the new left-wing mayor Ada Colau recently suspended the issuance of new licenses for tourist accommodation for a year.  

Survey respondents seemed to approve of Colau and her actions, with 52 percent saying they had a positive view of the city administration and Colau herself receiving the best rating of other local politicians.

Economic force or forceful headache?

Although Barcelonians may see tourists as an increasing headache, holidaymakers are a major part of the city's livelihood.

Tourism makes up 14 percent of Barcelona's economy and creates around 120,000 jobs.

A recent report also showed that sightseers seem to be keeping the city's cultural hubs alive, according to newspaper La Vanguardia.

Three-quarters of all Barcelona museum-goers last year were foreign visitors while only 10 percent come from the city itself.

For the famous Picasso Museum, the differences are even more drastic with more than 93 percent of its visitors coming from abroad.

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